Thursday, 4:30 PM
Patrick to create state volunteer corps
By Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick announced today the creation of a state service corps with a goal of building a network of up to 1,000 volunteers over the next five years to provide community service in cities and towns across Massachusetts.
With echoes of President John F. Kennedy's Peace Corps, the Commonwealth Corps would require members to dedicate at least one year of service to a nonprofit organization, civic initiative, or public entity. Corps members would be at least 18 years or older and range from high school-age students, to mid-career workers, to retirees.
"The mission of Commonwealth Corps is to draw together people of all ages and backgrounds to help meet human need and rebuild communities across Massachusetts," Patrick said in a statement. "By mentoring, staffing after school programs or shelters, helping to clean up parks and neighborhoods, members can help transform communities and inspire others to take action to promote the common good."
Patrick, whose campaign placed a heavy emphasis on civic engagement, said he would file legislation to create the volunteer corps, building on work done by Democratic state Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton.
"Throughout the state, volunteers work tirelessly to meet educational, environmental, public safety, and human service needs in the state," said Pacheco in a statement. "But there is so much more that we could be doing. I commend the Governor for taking the initiative to strengthen citizen service throughout the Commonwealth."
In its first year, the Commonwealth Corps would involve 250 people, with a goal of expanding to 1,000 members over the next five years, according to a release issued by the Patrick administration. The Massachusetts Service Alliance would be designated as the administrator of the Commonwealth Corps.
The legislation would also create the Commonwealth Student Corps, a pilot program designed to expand service opportunities for students. The initiative would be initially administered by three public colleges or universities and seek to connect students with service opportunities in their areas of study.
Patrick's plan would also expand the State Employee Responding as Volunteers, under which state employees who have worked for at least three months are eligible to volunteer for one day of service per month as tutors.